Posted on 23 January 2012.
RELATED STORY LINK: WA PREMIER BACKS AUSTRALIA DAY FLAG WAVERS
People who fly Australian flags on their cars in the leadup to Australia Day express more racist attitudes than others without flags, University of Western Australia research has found.
UWA sociologist and anthropologist Farida Fozdar and a team of assistants surveyed 513 people at last year’s Australia Day Skyworks extravaganza on Perth’s Swan River foreshore.
One in five fireworks fans said they had attached flags to their cars to celebrate Australia Day.
WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY
Professor Fozdar said 43 per cent of people with car flags believed the long-abandoned White Australia Policy had saved Australia from many problems experienced by other countries.
Only 25 per cent of Skyworks goers who did not adorn their cars with flags thought the same way.
A total of 56 per cent of people with car flags feared their culture and its most important values were in danger, compared with 34 per cent of non-flaggers.
And 35 per cent of flaggers felt that people had to be born in Australia to be truly Australian, while 23 per cent believed true Australians had to be Christian.
This compared with 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively for non-flaggers.
Professor Fozdar beside a flag-waving car.
Professor Fozdar said there were clear differences in how people with car flags felt toward minority groups.
Only 39 per cent of flaggers expressed a positive view toward Aboriginal people compared with 47 per cent of non-flaggers.
And 19 per cent of flaggers felt positive towards Muslim Australians compared to 26 per cent of non-flaggers.
Just seven per cent of flaggers were positive towards asylum seekers compared to 24 per cent of non-flaggers.
And 27 per cent with flags felt positive towards Asian Australians compared to 48 per cent of non-flaggers.
Three survey questions sought views on Australian cultural diversity: 64 per cent of people with car flags agreed that it was good for people from different ethnic, religious and racial groups to live in Australia, compared to 75 per cent of non-flaggers.
An overwhelming 91 per cent of people with car flags agreed that people who move to Australia should adopt Australian values, compared to 76 per cent of non-flaggers.
A total of 55 per cent of flaggers believed migrants should leave their old ways behind, compared with 30 per cent of non-flaggers.
However, majorities of both groups − 60 per cent of flaggers and 73 per cent of non-flaggers − also felt it was best to respect and learn from each other’s cultural differences.
Professor Fozdar said there was no clear link between flag flying and education, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, voting pattern or income.
However, her survey showed a slightly higher likelihood of younger rather than older people adopting the practice.
In terms of nationalism, 88 per cent of those with Australian flags on their cars said they thought it showed they were proud to be Australian, while only 52 per cent of those without flags thought so.
Some thought the increased popularity of flying Australian car flags was due to increased patriotism.
Others said it was simply peer pressure to follow the trend or avoid seeming unpatriotic.
Many said the phenomenon was caused by marketing and the cheap availability of car flags.
Others thought it was a response to loss of culture due to multiculturalism, immigration, invasion and terrorism.
“What I found interesting is that many people didn’t really have much to say about why they chose to fly car flags or not,” Professor Fozdar said.
“Many felt strongly patriotic about it − and for some, this was quite a racist or exclusionary type of patriotism − but it wasn’t a particularly conscious thing for many.
“Very clear statistical differences in attitudes to diversity between those who fly car flags and those who don’t show that flag waving − while not inherently exclusionary – is linked in this instance to negative attitudes about those who do not fit the ‘mainstream’ stereotype.”
Fewer people − one in five − reported flying Australian flags from their cars in 2011 compared to 2010 when it was one in four.
‘AUSTRALIA DAY FLAG’ PICTURE: TOBY HUDSON